Nina Johnson and Peter Shire Talk “Funnel of Love”

Cultured Magazine


Los Angeles-based artist, potter and designer Peter Shire made his way to the East Coast to present his show “Funnel of Love” at Nina Johnson Gallery in Miami. Exhibiting Shire’s diverse artistic practice through the exposition of new and vintage works, an original member of the iconic Memphis Group employs symbols of hospitality and generosity while exploring the aesthetics of consumerist populism. Here, just before his show closes, gallerist Nina Johnson and Shire sat down to discuss his creative process and future projects, including his return to Milan—where Memphis began—for a show at Post Design Gallery.

Nina Johnson: As a member of the iconic Memphis Group, how do you continue to push bold design and colors in your work?
Peter Shire: The spirit is in me.

What was the ethos that connected everyone in the group? As long as people have made things, they have conformed to styles showing a feeling for what looks right in their particular world. 1980 was a particular world, a transitional moment (before the world economy and the information age, that was still ten to twenty years away), and we reacted to it with imagery of optimism and a need to make something completely new and important.

Nina Johnson.

What inspired the title for the exhibition, “Funnel of Love?”
When all is said and done, I love things that are funny and let’s face it, “Funnel of Love,” sounds like “Tunnel of Love.” Although the only place I’ve seen a “Tunnel of Love” amusement park ride is in comic books. It brings a nostalgia of carnivals, amusement parks, love, lost loves and things we wish existed.

What was it like to prep for a show on the East Coast and simultaneously arrange the exhibition “Peter Shire, 1234 Stagioni” in Milan?
It was a lot of work. This brings a high energy and makes it a joy to wake up in the morning and get to the studio. The pressure causes ideas to squeeze out of seemingly nowhere. Ideas that are completely new and unexpected and therefore very important.

Installation view of “Funnel of Love” at Nina Johnson Gallery.

Can you tell us about your creative process?
Almost every day I spend 8 to 12 to 16 hours in the studio. When inspiration, or the right moment, or perhaps when the stars all align, I’m on the spot. It would seem that creativity isn’t a process, it’s a realization. It’s a chance when you see through the mundane and every day and into something extraordinary on the other side.

Peter Shire.

Do you see yourself creating more work in Miami in the near future?
I’d love to create more work in Miami. Nina Johnson has tossed our hat into the ring or maybe we should say she tossed it into the Biscayne Bay and we hope that it has far reaching waves.

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